I was born and raised in the 1970s-1980s war in Lebanon.
War disconnects lives, memories, and experiences by creating endless cycles of violence, murderous identities, and wounded memories.
I have come to believe that these memories are inevitably transmitted from generation to generation in private and public spaces, and that socio-political conviviality and peace need both individual and national healing processes. Or else, the load of traumas that we carry will prevail, fueled by the continuous local and regional crises and State-sponsored amnesia.
Growing up in war left me with a thirst to discover the truth behind the endless years spent in shelters and displacement, the survival techniques I learned, such as how to avoid snipers and land mines, the suffering following the destruction of our houses and the horrific deaths of loved ones, the fascination with war games I used to play, and the hours spent with my parents trying to look for bread.
War has definitely marked my identity, world vision, and visual expression, and it has fueled my pursuit for connections between cultures and religions; the contemporary and the traditional; the physical and the mental; the visible and the invisible; the past, present, and future; the logos (word) and the eikon (image); humanity, the natural and the spiritual… My pursuit for peace… Contrary to war, peace is the art of connecting. It is a continuous process encompassing historical subjectivities and energies in interpenetrative modes; a process of interacting dynamics, fragmented and common truths, voices, paths, and pathos.
A Duwama (spiral or vortex) is a visualization of this peacebuilding process. It symbolizes life versus death, positive movement towards the manifestation of connections, and therefore, towards forgiveness, healing, and conviviality.
Every Duwama is a story of transformation, from a shattered and disconnected situation, event, emotion or experience, to a connected realm.
P.S.: The Duwama Collection includes 10 artworks. It was exhibited in Venice-Italy in October-November 2019 (Venice Biennale – ITSLIQUID International Art FestivalPalazzo Ca’ Zanardi). It was donated to Itsliquid Group following the exhibition.
My father used to take my sister and I to a Stone Pine Trees forest when there was a ceasefire. The connection we had with him and nature helped us heal our wounds. Common in the mountains, Stone Pine Trees, also called Umbrellas, have a deep-green color, give a distinctive fragrance, and harbor loud cicadas (zeez). They have become the trademarks of Lebanese summers in the mountains, although many were lost due to shelling during the mountain war of the 1980’s. “Picnic wa Snawbar” is a story of implicit memories of survival and resilience, two qualities that allow some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find ways to rise from the ashes.
This Duwama tells the story of bombshells and bloodshed turned into Fumana Arabica, a species of yellow flowers growing abundantly in the Spring in the Mountains of Lebanon, and symbolizing “bonds”, “nature’s renewal” and “resurrection”.
In the ancient Southwestern Asia – Middle East – , the coming of spring was often linked to mythical tales of rebirth and resurrection. At the centre of these stories were a cast of fertility gods, such as the Phoenician god Adon (Adonis), who share similar origin stories and parallels with the Christian festival of Easter. When Adonis was killed by other male gods, drops of his blood spilled out and stained flowers. However, Ashtarut’s (Aphrodite) outpouring of love was so strong that Adonis would live again. He would stay in the hills of Byblos (Jbeil – Lebanon) for six months each year during spring and summer, and then return in the underworld for fall and winter. In his honor, “Adonis gardens” were grown by sprouting seeds in a dish which sprang up bright and green, but then perished. This was done every year in memory of his life and death.
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh is a scholar, writer, visual artist, and activist. Author of several books and papers with a 20+ year experience in higher education, communication, content creation, and the arts, she has exhibited her artworks in Canada, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. Previously Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Dubai, she currently owns and manages a Beirut-based company offering expertise in Learning and Communication.
http://pamelachrabiehblog.com and http://spnc.co